This research theme aims to understand the complex interactions between employment, health, and well-being over the course of working life.  To date, this work has been funded by Skills Development Scotland and the ESRC and the European Commission chiefly with the goal to enhance understanding of the long-run nature of the link between mental health and unemployment. 

Whilst it is known that short-term declines in psychological and to a lesser extent physical health follow unemployment, whether such health effects may persist decades after remployment is less well established. Previously, we have uncovered evidence for a 'scarring' effect of unemployment experienced over four decades in the UK on psychological distress (Daly & Delaney, 2013) and have since incorporated new samples, nations, outcome measures, and a consideration of the potential mechanisms underpinning such effects (e.g. Mousteri, Delaney, & Daly, 2018). In addition, we seek to investigate the broader psychological effects of unemployment (e.g. Boyce et al., 2015) and the impact of underresearched employment conditions which employees may consider unfavourable (e.g. underemployment, zero-hours contracts) and to ascertain whether such conditions may generate adverse mental and physical health effects (e.g. Mousteri, Daly, & Delaney, 2019). 


Unemployment is chiefly considered an effect of the business cycle, economic recessions, and a skills mismatch between employers and the workforce. In addition, we suggest that psychological factors can play a key role in determining who becomes unemployed and who suffers the consequences of economic downturns (e.g. Daly et al., 2015; Egan et al., 2017). To date, in two studies we have documented the substantial unemployment 'penalty' experienced by those with pre-existing raised distressed levels and have found that this penatly is intensified during economic recessions (Egan et al., 2015; Egan et al., 2016). We are currently expanding this work to examine the link between specific mental health conditions and subsequent unemployment (e.g. Mousteri et al., in preparation) and aim to unpick the mechanisms that may explain these associations. For example, the impact of mental health conditions on employment prospects may be attributable to stigmatisation by employers and co-workers and/or the impact of mental health on job performance, absenteeism, as well as engagement in education and training and job search. 


Boyce, C.J., Wood, A.M., Daly, M., & Sedikides, C. (2015). Personality change following unemployment.

Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 991 - 1011.

Daly, M., & Delaney, L. (2013). The scarring effect of unemployment throughout adulthood on psychological distress at age 50: Estimates controlling for early adulthood distress and childhood​ psychological factors. Social Science and Medicine, 80, 19 - 23.

Daly, M., Delaney, L., Egan, M., & Baumeister, R. F. (2015). Childhood self-control and unemployment throughout the lifespan: evidence from two British cohort studies. Psychological Science, 26, 709 - 723. 

Egan, M., Daly, M., & Delaney, L. (2015). Childhood psychological distress and youth unemployment: evidence from two British cohort studies. Social Science & Medicine, 124, 11 - 17.

Egan, M., Daly, M., & Delaney, L. (2016). Adolescent psychological distress, unemployment, and the Great Recession: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997. Social Science & Medicine, 156, 98 -105.

Egan, M., Daly, M., Delaney, L., Boyce, C., & Wood, A. (2017). Adolescent conscientiousness predicts lower lifetime unemployment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102, 700-709. 

Mousteri, V., Daly, M., & Delaney, L. (2018). The scarring effect of unemployment on psychological well-being across Europe. Social Science Research, 72,146-169. 

Mousteri, V., Daly, M., & Delaney, L. (2019). Hours-underemployment and psychological distress: Propensity score and fixed effects estimates from two large UK samples. Social Science & Medicine. 

Mousteri, V., Daly, M., Delaney, L., Tynelius, P., & Rasmussen, F. (2019). Adolescent mental health and unemployment over the lifespan: Population evidence from Sweden. Social Science & Medicine, 222, 305-314.